Sen. Ted Cruz: 'Let's Use Warren Buffett's Taxes and Not Some 30-Year-Old Who's Struggling'

Susan Jones | July 10, 2017 | 5:56am EDT
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) explains his view of the Republican health insurance plan on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, July 9, 2017. (Screen grab from ABC)

( - Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), an early advocate of repealing Obamacare, says his objective for the last six months “has been to reach consensus, to bring together and unify the Republican conference” on an alternative to Obamacare.

Cruz said the way to do that is to “focus like a laser” on lowering premiums for everybody, including people with pre-existing conditions. And that means taxing wealthy people like Warren Buffet to help stabilize premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.

On Sunday, Cruz told ABC’s “This Week,” “There is widespread agreement in Congress there’s going to be significant assistance” for people with “serious diseases, serious pre-existing conditions.”

Here's what Obamacare does. It takes tens of millions of young healthy people and it jacks up their premiums, it doubles or triples their premiums, and takes all that extra money -- not for them, but uses it to cross-subsidize people who are sick. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that makes sense.

I'd much rather use direct taxpayer funds. Let's use Warren Buffett's taxes and not some 30-year-old who's struggling and just beginning her career. Don't double her premiums to cross-subsidize other people. That's what Obamacare does. It's wildly unfair.

Cruz said low-income people are not the only ones who would be subsidized for pre-existing conditions. He noted that there are “two different sources of federal taxpayer funds on the exchanges.”

First, there are tax credits to help low-income people afford their insurance premiums.

“But number two, the Senate bill has over $100 billion in funds for the stabilization fund that are designed to stabilize those premiums. The objective has to be -- and I think the way we get this done is focus on lowering premiums. If we're lowering premiums, it's a win/win for everybody.”

Cruz said he continues to believe Republicans can pass health care reform. And if repeal and replace can’t be done at the same time, he favors passing a repeal bill that would take effect in a year or two, “then spend that time debating the replacement.”

“And if a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, premiums continue to skyrocket, we will have failed. But if they go down, if health insurance is more affordable, that's a big win for everybody.”

The plan proposed by Senate Republicans allows people to pay health insurance premiums from health savings accounts, which use pre-tax dollars. Cruz took credit for introducing that proposal, and he called it a “big deal.”

He’s also advocating a “consumer freedom option,” which says consumers should be able to choose what kind of insurance they want to buy:

“If you want to buy a plan with all the bells and whistles, with all of the mandates under Title 1 (Obamacare), you can buy that plan, those plans will be on the market. Those plans will have significant federal taxpayer money behind them.

"But on the other hand if you can't afford a full Cadillac plan, you should be able to buy another plan that meets your needs. And so the consumer freedom option gives you, the consumer, choice whether to go with the full Cadillac or a skinnier plan that's a lot more affordable, and for a lot of consumers, that may be much better than having no coverage whatsoever, which is what they have now.”

President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday, “For years, even as a ‘civilian,’ I listened as Republicans pushed the Repeal and Replace of ObamaCare. Now they finally have their chance!”

On Monday, Trump tweeted: "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!"

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